Thursday, October 20, 2011

31 Days: Home Cookin'

I.  Love.  Food.

Lately, I've been all about the junk food, but I know it's only a temporary thing.  Soon, I'll be all about the soups and stews, then probably move into breads, perhaps a foray into being all about the roasted vegetables... I'm all over the place.  

I made these mac & cheese muffin cups last night.
I love them.

One food category I'm rarely all about is restaurant food.  I don't know why.  I love the idea of restaurants - I sit and think of something yummy, state it out loud, and then 10-20 minutes later (depending on the service) it appears.  I eat as much as I want, and then the dirty dishes disappear.  It's all lovely, in theory, and there are times that I enjoy a dinner out.

I love them a lot.


I don't love it.  I rarely eat dinner out more than once a week, more like 2-3 times a month, tops.  I don't really like restaurant food.  Sometimes it's amazing, but a lot of the time I think, "I/My mom/someone-I-know could have made this at home, with real ingredients.  It might have even been better."  I'll admit, the cost does factor into it.  I mean, $2.15 for an extra side of mashed potatoes?  Because I'm eating $2.15 worth of potatoes, butter, and cream?  Puh-lease.  I'm barely getting 1/2 of a Russet, here!  But it's about the quality, too.

On the flip side, I don't always love to cook, either.  I often feel uninspired, or trapped by rules of price, availability, and health.  But I'd almost always choose a home-cooked meal over something in a restaurant.  I understand this makes me at least a little bit weird to at least some of you.  I'm pretty sure it's my mom's fault, as we rarely ever ate out as children.  I do remember going to Pizza Hut for our monthly Book-It personal pan, but that's about the only restaurant experiences I can recall as a child.

ASIDE: Please don't even go into your-husband-could-cook-once-in-a-while land.  Not here, not in my house.  Handsome doesn't cook here.  Could he?  Yes, I think, given the proper motivation and direction, he could totally cook up something yummy.  But as long as I've known him (going on 10 years, here, people) he's never been able to muster up the "proper motivation" that reading a recipe or watching pasta boil require.  We have, in order of increasing success, Handsome's top 3 cooking experiences:

  1. Taco's.  Read the recipe on the back of the spice packet the whole way through??  No way, not my guy.  He's got this in the bag.  Meat, spices, pan, stove, let's go to work.  End result?  A 1-pound pattie of beef and spices, pan-fried.  There's not enough ranch in the world to cover that up, although he tried.
  2. Prison Food - his name for the dish.  We were in college, and he wanted to make me dinner.  The plan: spaghetti with red sauce.  Problem: Not enough noodles.  Solution: Mix in some Ramen noodles, too.  Problem: Not enough sauce.  Soluion: Add in some ketchup and hot sauce.  He ate it with a wooden spoon out the pan.  Makes me gag just to think about it.
  3. Chicken Pot Pie.  He "made" this for me one year for Valentine's day when we were dating.  The term "made" is used very loosely here, as my mom had given him the little pie a week earlier, and he saved it in the freezer, popped it in the oven according to her directions, and then served it.  But it was edible.
This weekend, I'm catering a wedding for a friend.  It's small, and it shouldn't be too bad.  Which is what I tell myself when I'm feeling rational.  Other times, I feel half-nauseous, and can't imagine anything going correctly, and I forget to breathe.  I'll tell you, there have been moments where, if I loved the bride-to-be any less, I'd totally bail on this.  Yesterday I baked 7 dozen sugar cookies, 12 of which were in the shape of a K.

My biggest challenge will be to properly prepare the Cuban Black Beans & Rice dish that she has loved from her childhood.  The "& Rice" part isn't a source of great anxiety to me.  It's the black beans.  I have a "recipe" of sorts, which includes no measurements, is translated from Spanish, and supposedly serves a family of 4.  Does it serve a family of 4 for a main course, or as a side dish?  I have no idea.  What if 4 people are eating it, but they aren't related?  Will it still serve them all?  Again, the answer remains a mystery.  

So I'm going to go blindly into this black night of Cuban Cooking, and hopefully either (a) do it correctly, or more likely (b) the bride & groom will be too distracted to eat on their wedding day, as is the normal way of things.  It might help if I actually liked beans, so I could taste as I go.  But no, alas, beans and I are enemies. Hopefully, we can call a truce on Saturday, for the sake of love.

In the kitchen,


  1. Somebody10/20/2011


  2. I will take the blame for bean-phobia too. Sorry.


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